In the text of a newspaper article in the film: "If you've paused the film in order to read this entire article, your time would be better spent renting Citizen Ruth (1996) from your local video store. Do you know how hard it is to write these fake few stories for newspaper movie props? I've got better things to do."
Apples are featured prominently in the movie, usually before trouble arrives for a character. They are used as an analogy to entice Paul Metzler to enter the election, an apple tree is shown before Mr. McAllister is stung by a bee, apples hang above the doorway to Mr. McAllister's living room right before he discovers his wife knows he cheated on her, and Mr. McAllister wins the Apple Teacher of The Year Award at the beginning of the movie.
In the gym scenes, since the extras were real high school students, the director faced the problem of not having enough of them because of the SAT season, and many of them having already found out the sometimes tedious process of working as an extra. As a solution for the shots requiring a full gym to be seen, the director asked the extras to move two or three times from their seats to look as if there were more people with the help of editing. The wide shot showing both sides of the gym was done in less than 20 minutes when the teachers of Papillion La Vista Highschool asked more students to join the film shooting.
Chris Klein's debut film and his first professional acting job. He was a student at Millard West High School in Omaha when he was discovered by Alexander Payne while looking for a school to use for filming (another one was eventually used). Although a number of other actors auditioned for Paul, Klein stuck in Payne's mind.
Since the movie was shot in a real High School (Papillion La Vista High School, Omaha, Nebraska), adjacent classrooms had real class going on while some scenes for the movie were being done. In the soundtrack, some background noises come from real teachers and students. The director decided to leave that in as to give the movie a more realistic sound.
If you look closely at some of the 'PICK FLICK' cupcakes Tracy places on the table before offering one to Mr. McAllister, you'll notice some of them spell out a very obscene word because the bottom of the 'L' in the word 'FLICK' is elongated.
The source novel by Tom Perrotta is a reworking of Budd Schulberg's 1941 novel "What Makes Sammy Run?" In Schulberg's novel, an older writer (Al Manheim) watches young Sammy Glick rise through the ranks of New York journalism and the Old Hollywood studio system. In "Election," Al Manheim is replaced by Jim McAllister and Sammy Glick by Tracy Flick.
G.W. Carver High School is actually Papillion-LaVista High School, located in Papillion, Sarpy County, Nebraska. The director Alexander Payne wanted to use Omaha North High School -- an older, more traditional-looking school building -- but the Omaha Public School's superintendent refused after reading the script and deeming it inappropriate.
When MTV Pictures sent Alexander Payne the novel in 1997 to gauge his interest, he told them he didn't want to produce a teen comedy. After talking with them, they convinced them that the story in essence was a dark, adult comedy disguised as a teen comedy. Buying that argument, he agreed to do the movie.
The yearbook office seen in a scene involving Tracy Flick is the real yearbook office for Papillion La Vista High School, as opposed to the director's office, which is actually the detention room, refurbished for the movie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The ending was re-shot, presumably after poor test screenings. The original ending was closer to the novel, featuring Mr. McAllister working at a car dealership and Tracy going to visit him before she leaves for college.